A couple of years ago, I had purchased a Wilton Cake-Decorating Yearbook and within the pages, found the perfect cake for the shower... individual sized umbrellas with fondant icing. Cute! I had only attempted to use fondant icing once before...
For DDs first birthday, I came across the cutest little cakes in a Martha Stewart magazine (see photo). As I read the instructions, I thought to myself, "Hey. I think I could do that." Little did I know how much trouble I would have. The biggest problem was that the cake, once cut into little blocks, was crumbly! Before I could put on the fondant, the instructions said to use a buttercream frosting. Not knowing any different, I used pre-made frosting from the cake aisle at the supermarket. It was too thick... as I attempted to spread it out in a thin layer, it caused the cake to crumble even more... even though I had frozen the cake in advance. I was up late and becoming very stressed. In the morning, I called my mom (who had taken a few cake decorating classes when I was little).
Unfortunately, she had never used fondant either. Thankfully, she came down early and helped me to frost the cakes in the last few minutes before the guests arrived. The finished product didn't look anything like Martha's ... but then, DD won't even remember all the effort we put forth! It was fun though - we had a lot of laughs.
Now comes my second attempt. The instructions said to use a jellyroll or cookie sheet to bake the cake and then a large round cookie cutter to cut the cakes. I decided it would be easier to bake individual 4" rounds using my daughters bake set (I even bought 6 more pans so I could bake them all at once). This was one time saving step that I think was critical to how much easier it was this time around. The second thing I did differently was to use an apricot glaze rather than try to thinly frost each half-circle with buttercream.
When the glaze cooled, I then used pre-colored fondant (another huge time-saver) and rolled out a small circle for each cake. I also made the buttercream icing myself - rather than using a little tub from the store - much softer. However, just before I got started, I discovered that I was out of butter & shortening, so I called upon a neighbor who was able to bale me out of a pinch (DH had taken my car - with the car seats - to a friends, so I was w/o transportation & not enough time to physically run). I was also out of piping bags so I couldn't use my #67 tip ... a las, my daughter's baking set comes in handy again. I use her piping bag and tip, only the tip was much larger than mine so the lines are not as delicate as I would have liked.
When the cakes were done, I was very pleased with my work. I am definately more skilled with the fondant now and having the right tools/recipes, certainly makes a difference (just like home baked pizza). I look forward to doing more (but only for special occasions - I was asked at the shower if I had considered doing it as a business). Everyone raved about how cute they were. I love that. When people notice the little details... the extra step you took to make it special... that makes all the difference. (right, Kong?) :)
BTW - the Raspberry Mojitos were to die for... delicious, refreshing, yummy. Want the recipe?